Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation (divine Fatherhood), to incorporate us more firmly into Christ, to strengthen our bond with the Church, to associate us more closely with her mission, and to help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds. Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #1316)
The Sacrament of Confirmation makes present the same grace that was showered upon the Apostles fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ (Pentecost). Through this celebration, the Father and the Son pour our the Holy Spirit upon us. In the Acts of the Apostles 1:4-5, 8 we hear the “promise of the Spirit” that Jesus makes before his Ascension: While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus tells them to wait for the promise of the Father and that they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Apostles had to wait for this gift just as we wait to receive this gift in Confirmation.
Preparation for Confirmation
In the Diocese of Fall River the Sacrament of Confirmation is celebrated in the Spring of ninth grade, or ant time during tenth grade. Preparation for the sacrament is truly a four year process. Our students continue to deepen their relationship with Christ, and each other, and to expand their knowledge of God and to grow in their Catholic faith within our EDGE program for 7th and 8th graders, and Life Teen which is offered for all high schoolers. Candidates will choose a saint to walk with them on their journey as well as a sponsor. Parish members are asked to pray for the candidates, their families and sponsors during their final preparation.
It is the bishop who has the authority to confirm by the laying on of hands. The priests can be given this authority by the bishop. This is seen at the Easter Vigil in our Catholic Churches when many people have prepared for all the Sacraments of Initiation and come into full communion with the Church through the authority given to the parish priest. This gift of the Holy Spirit is given fully in the Sacrament of Confirmation by the laying on of hands by our Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha. He also anoints the confirmand on the forehead with sacred chrism sealing him/her to Christ. Each of the seven special gifts of the Spirit helps us to face the challenges of living in full accord with the Gospel today. They are:
- The Gift of Knowledge: To know something about God that no one has taught you or that you have studied; the power to see that everything comes from God, points to or leads us to Him
- The Gift of Piety: To realize how great God is, and what your proper stance is before Him (humility); it helps us to pray and to let the Holy Spirit live within and through us
- The Gift of Wisdom: To be wise in the ways of God is true wisdom; it’s to trust Him totally and believe in God’s Plan
- The Gift of Fortitude: The gift of strength to follow Jesus even in difficult times; it empowers us to do what is right, to love and to reach out to others
- The Gift of Understanding: The ability to look at a situation and see God working in it; and to see and feel with the heart
- The Gift of Fear of the Lord: The gift of remaining close to God and not wanting to be separated from Him; it’s a greater awareness of God’s holiness and our sinfulness; it gives us confidence, comfort and security knowing Someone is greater/bigger than us
- The Gift of Counsel: To know what to do and when to do it and to help others know this too; it helps one with discernment, self-control and waiting
In Matthew 12:33 it says, “…for a tree is known by its fruit.” This fruit is observable behavior of people who allow the grace of the Holy Spirit to be effective in them. Jesus tells us in the True Vine parable, John 15:4-5a: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches.” In Galatians 5:22-23, Saint Paul names nine fruits or moral qualities that embody a Christian life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1832 lists twelve as part of our Tradition from the ancient Latin text translation called The Vulgate.
Fruits of the Spirit
- Charity: love of God and neighbor
- Joy: experience great pleasure or delight in union with God
- Peace: state of tranquility, free from disturbance; the goal of Christian living
- Patience: bearing trials without complaint or haste
- Kindness: disposition to do good
- Goodness: qualities and virtues which make us what God wants us to be
- Generosity: being unselfish with the fruits of goodness
- Gentleness: being gentle in nature and behavior
- Faithfulness: following the body of truth which we believe
- Modesty: purity in one’s words, actions, and dress
- Self-control: control over indulgence in desires and actions
- Chastity: purity in one’s thoughts, words and actions
Jesus’ message is one of service. Mark 10:45 says, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve…” The ways in which our church lifts up service are called the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. These fourteen practices demand great sacrifice and generosity; they also draw us more deeply in obedience to the Lord. Our life in Christ is about loving God with our whole heart, mind, and soul and sharing God’s love with others.
Corporal Works of Mercy: Feed the hungry – Give drink to the thirsty – Clothe the naked – Visit the imprisoned – Shelter the homeless – Visit the sick – Bury the dead.
Spiritual Works of Mercy: Admonish the sinner – Instruct the ignorant – Counsel the doubtful – Comfort the sorrowful – Bear wrongs patiently – Forgive all injuries – Pray for the living and the dead.